TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Nov. 22, 2010

Troopers on the border are involved in far more high-speed chases than officers in any other region of the state, according to an analysis of nearly 5,000 Department of Public Safety pursuit reports by The Texas Tribune and the San Antonio Express-News. Nearly 13 percent of the chases (656) happened in Hidalgo County. Of the 10 counties with the most chases, five were counties along the border. The analysis also reveals that troopers use aggressive pursuit tactics — including firing guns and setting up roadblocks — that many other law enforcement agencies prohibit.

We’ve reached a point in the soap opera known as the House Speaker’s Race at which it's tough to track all the characters and their connections. To keep his post, current Speaker Joe Straus is actively campaigning for the votes of House members who will elect him — or his replacement — in January. In recent weeks, two of his fellow Republicans have emerged as challengers, and the involvement of sundry outside interests make for an increasingly tangled web. As the House General Investigating and Ethics Committee prepares to hold a hearing today about alleged threats made against one minor player in the drama, we present this handy interactive to help make sense of it all.

Penny-pinchers at the State Board of Education opted to incorporate changes to the high school science curriculum via lower-cost electronic supplements to existing textbooks instead of spending up to $500 million to have new ones printed. Trouble is, many schools lack the technological capability to use them.

Patient privacy advocate Deborah Peel on why our electronic medical records are in grave danger, how they could be used to discriminate against us and what Facebook can teach health care professionals about informed consent.

The prospect of unabashedly Republican Texas becoming communist Cuba's leading U.S. trade partner seemed almost too good to be true. And, indeed, the relationship between two very different kind of red states hasn’t quite lived up to expectations.

One hundred miles from the nearest major city, where there was nothing but flat earth seven months ago, a 145,000-square-foot facility has sprung up on the Texas A&M Health Science Center campus. Starting in January, its cavernous rooms will be filled with racks of tobacco-like plants expected to produce as many influenza vaccines in a single month as a traditional lab does in one year, at a fraction of the cost. Dr. Brett Giroir, the vice chancellor for research at the Texas A&M University System, calls it the most exciting project of its kind in the world, the potential savior of the next pandemic. And, he says, “it’s in Bryan. Go figure.”

Citing performance issues and alleging a conflict of interest, critics blasted Friday's decision by the Texas Lottery Commission to renew a 10-year operations contract worth up to $1 billion with Rhode Island-based GTECH Corporation, the state’s primary lottery vendor since its 1992 inception.

Yes, a jury convicted the former U.S. House majority leader of money laundering. But Tom DeLay's maps — the ones that upended the careers of Democrats and helped the GOP take over Congress — are still in place. No amount of jail time can change that.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, is the fifth-wealthiest member of Congress, while U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, is the fourth-poorest, according to an analysis of personal financial statements by the Center for Responsive Politics. Use our interactive tables to see how the state's members rank.

From day one, the Tribune has put a premium on events as a very vibrant, dynamically interactive form of journalism: always before an audience, always open to the public, always on the record, usually free and whenever possible resulting in recorded content that could be posted on our web site for everyone to see, not just those lucky ducks who happened to be in the room. Usually these so-called TribLive events have been conversations with high elected officials or other newsmakers, and, indeed, they've occasionally made news. But more often than not they've simply been a way to engage with people in power, to hold them accountable, to ask them questions, to get to know them better. This Thanksgiving, we present videos of 21 of those conversations — our way of saying thanks to the men and women who've done their time in the hot seat.

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